For the past three days I have read one book a day.

None of them have been over 300 pages, but I still feel that’s slightly impressive. I’m on summer break until September and so far I have spent my free time in exactly the way I want: running and reading.

Yesterday I finished What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. It was an easy read – a memoir by a Japanese novelist and long distance runner. He talks about his races and his writing. In some ways it reminds me of my blog. I didn’t agree with all of Murakami’s ideas (he’s a lot more anti-social than I’d like to be, and not nearly as competitive), but a lot of what he said inspired me.

Haruki Murakami has a running rule: He never walks. If he needs to stop, he will walk on the spot or stretch. But he will not advance on the course – he claims that he does not come to a race to walk. It’s important to him that he run every single inch of the route. Murakami is now 61, and that rule is still unbroken. He claims that he would like his tombstone to read:

Haruki Murakami


Writer (and Runner)

At Least He Never Walked

I stated before that I don’t want to be buried, but if I were I would like my tombstone to stay something like:

Vanessa Rodriguez


No regrets.

As you can see, I plan to clear 100. So I like the fact that Murakami is an old Japanese dude, talking about triathlons and marathons and ultra marathons. Running is something I’d like to stick with for life. It’s like Murakami says: “A person doesn’t become a runner because someone recommends it. People basically become runners because they’re meant to.”

I think a lot about what I’m meant to do, and the amount of time I have to do it in. I think about when I’m old. And by old, I mean into my 90s and 100s. I’m not sure if it’s normal for a 20-something to think so much about being that old, but it always gives me a sense of excitement and anticipation. I don’t expect that my mind will be the same then as it is now. I expect that it will be sharper.

Many post-secondary institutions give major discounts or even free tuition to people after a certain age. This blows my mind. I can’t understand why universities aren’t filled with senior citizens?? What a tremendous opportunity.

When you’re old, you don’t have to put up with anyone’s bullshit. I don’t put up with it NOW, but when I’m old I will able to get away with it more easily. Nobody wants to argue with an old lady.

I would call people on their crap and spread a protective wing over those who can’t stand up for themselves. Dare people to cross me and break them if they try. People try to stay out of your way and give you what you want when you’re old. I think about how much faster I could accomplish things this way.

When I train, I actually plan for my old age. I think about my form in terms of preserving my knees – because I know I’ll need them later. I develop muscles to support the joints that I will need over the long term. Whenever I turn down alcohol or other substances, I think about how I will need my liver to be around for another 100+ years. I nurture my organs like they’re just babies. Because I actually believe that they are.

Ever since elementary school I have had a silly, but very restless feeling. I would look at all the adults around me and see how much older they were, and how much more knowledge they had. They had lived through things that I hadn’t. They had learned things that I didn’t know. Because I knew we were all aging at the same pace, I reasoned that if I were to ever become smarter than ANYONE older than me, I would have to play catch up.

I would have to read more than they did. Learn faster. Remember better. Experience more. I would have to not only keep up with new information surrounding the current world and events, but I would also have to read up on the times and eras that I had missed. History and classic books and old movies.

I didn’t like hearing references that I didn’t understand. And I didn’t like feeling that someone else knew more than I did. So began a pursuit of knowledge. And really, it is this same restlessness that drove me to read three books in three days.

Running for me, like knowledge, is a similar lifelong pursuit. Perhaps it’s hard for some people to really understand it. Maybe it’s just something that can never be explained. I wonder if the best thing – instead of always trying to describe and explain running to others – is to just leave it unjustified. And say as Murakami does:

“I’m going to keep running marathons, and not let it get me down. Even when I grow old and feeble, when people warn me it’s about time to throw in the towel, I won’t care. As long as my body allows, I’ll keep on putting in as much effort – perhaps even more effort – toward my goal of finishing a marathon. I don’t care what others say – that’s just my nature, the way I am. Like scorpions sting, cicadas cling to trees, salmon swim upstream to where they were born, and wild ducks mate for life.”

Just keep running.